2014 Obits – May through August

May 2: Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., 95:  star of The F.B.I., 77 Sunset Strip and voice of Alfred Pennyworth in the Justice League, Superman and the New Batman Adventures passed away. A statement from his daughter Stephanie and son, Efrem Zimbalist III stated: we are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., today at his Solvang, Calif. ranch. He was 95 years old. A devout Christian, he actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf, and visiting with close friends. We will miss him dearly.

May 4: Dick Ayers, 90: one of the giants of the Marvel Age of Comics and who played a part in defining what made Marvel special in its earliest days died from complications from Parkinson’s disease.

May 9: Galindo Mellado Cruz: one of the original members of the Los Zetas drug cartel is believed to have been shot dead by the Mexican army in the city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.

May 11: Jeb Stuart Magruder, 79: presidential aide to Richard Nixon who was convicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice and wiretapping during the Watergate scandal and went to prison and later served as a pastor in Lexington, died in Danbury, Conn. due to complications from a stroke.

May 11: Ed Gagliardi, 62: original Foreigner Bassist, died after battling cancer for 8 years.

May 13: Martin Barreras, 49: Army Ranger Sergeant Major (American noncommissioned officer) in charge of the rescue of Jessica Lynch, died from wounds sustained in combat a week after his unit was attacked in Afghanistan. He was recovering at San Antonio Military Medican Center from wounds sustained when enemy forces opened fire on his unit May 6 in Herat province. He is also credited with advising the actors in the 2001 film, “Black Hawk Down.” Barreras is survived by a wife, two daughters and a son.

Malik Bendjelloul

Malik Bendjelloul

May 13: Malik Bendjelloul, 36: the Swedish Academy Award-winning documentary film director of Searching for Sugar Man died from death that is not related to crime (suicide).

May 19: April Jack, 40: athlete, shot, was killed by her actor husband, Michael Jace, 51. He was arrested by Los Angeles police at their home. Two young children were also in the home at the time of the shooting. It was unclear what prompted the shooting, but police said Jace’s wife of nine years had just returned home when the incident occurred.

May 19: Sante Kimes, 79: a notorious grifter, who along with her son, Kenneth Kimes, killed a wealthy widow in NYC, a business man in Los Angeles and perhaps others along the way. Sante died in her prison cell after being found unresponsive at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County. Irene Silverman was 82 when the Kimeses stole her $7 million Manhattan townhouse and other possessions. Her body was never found. When police searched their car and luggage they found guns, plastic handcuffs, syringes, tapes of Silverman’s telephone conversations and a fake deed to her home. Sante was sentenced to 120 years in prison and would not have been eligible for parole until 2119. Her son Kenneth received 125 years. She was convicted in California of murdering David Kazdin, whose body was found in a trash bin.

Lee Chamberlain

Lee Chamberlain

May 25: Lee Chamberlin, 76: American actress and playwright whose career spanned four decades on the stage, television and films died of cancer (as confirmed by her family). She was an original cast member of “The Electric Company” on PBS from 1971-73 along with Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno and others. In 1973 she played Cordelia in the Shakespeare in the Park production of “King Lear” alongside James Earl Jones, Paul Sorvino, Rosalind Cash and Ellen Holly. She co-starred with Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier in “Uptown Saturday Night” (1974) and “Let’s Do It Again” (1975). On the small screen she appeared in Lou Grant, The White Shadow, Diff’rent Strokes, The Practice, Moesha, NYPD Blue, Roots: The Next Generations, Touched By an Angel, plus many others. From 1983-95 she was a regular on the ABC soap “All My Children” as Pat Baxter. She is survived by her father, Bernando LaPallo (b. August 17, 1901) a sister Nandra Gant of Lexington, NC, a daughter Erika Chamberlin of Brooklyn, NY (51) and a son Matthew Chamberlin (47) of Chapel Hill, NC. She also had two grandchildren. – BWW News Desk

May 28: Gustavo Lezcano, 59: Cuban-born American musician, Miami Sound Machine member in its formative years and music teacher for 32 years at Gratigny Elementary School in North Miami. Lezcano wrote the title track for Eyes of Innocent, the Sound Machine’s first English-language crossover attempt in 1984. He would remain in the Sound Machine through the group’s breakthrough in 1985, Primitive Love, an album that featured three Billboard Top 10 pop singles — Conga, Bad Boy and Words Get in the Way. He died of heart failure and is survived byseveral children, his mother, his sister and brother.

May 28: Maya Angelou, 86: Award-winning American author, poet, civil rights activist, teacher, artist and a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. Angelou had been battling health problems. Wake Forest University said, “Dr. Angelou was a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world …” Angelou is famous for saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

May 30: Butler Blue I, 13: Butler’s original live mascot, who started the university’s now widely popular live mascot program died in Chicago at the age of 13. A native Hoosier, Butler Blue I was born on September 23 at the Kong King Kennel in Lizton.

June 1: Ann B. Davis, 88: American actress, winner of two Emmy Awards, died from a subdural hematoma she suffered from a fall. Known for her portrayal as Alice the housekeeper in “The Brady Bunch” appearing in her light blue maid’s uniform with a white apron, though in real life Alice admits she hated to cook. Even so, Davis penned “Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook” in 1994, featuring recipes from the show and anecdotes from life on the set.

June 4: Chester Nez, 93: Last original WWII Navajo code talker, who developed the code and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal in 2001, died of renal failure.

June 5: Don Davis, 75: musician, producer and composer; past away after a brief illness. Davis was session musician at Motown Records in Detroit. He then worked for a Memphis, Tenn.-based Stax Records and started independent Groovesville label and was co-writer and co-producer of “Who’s Making Love,” a 1968 Stax hit for Johnnie Taylor.

Karen DeCrow

Karen DeCrow

June 6: Karen DeCrow, 76: American civil rights activists, lawyer and author, President of the National Organization for Women (1974-1977), died at home after an extended illness according to long-time friend Rowena Malamud, president of the Greater Syracuse chapter of the National Organization for Women. “She was one of my heroes,” Malamud said.

June 11: Ruby Dee, 91: Emmy Award-winning actress, Grammy Award-winner (2007) and civil rights activist, National Medal of Arts laureate (1995). Dee and her late husband, Ossie Davis, were master and mistress of ceremonies at the 1963 March on Washington and they were friends with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Dee received the Frederick Douglass Award in 1970 from the New York Urban League. As an actress her film credits included “The Jackie Robinson Story” (1950), “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961), “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), “Do the Right Thing” (1989), and “American Gangster” (2007). Her career spans 7-decades. Ossie Davis preceded his wife in death in 2005.

June 13: Chuck Noll, 82: American football player (Cleveland Browns) and Hall of Fame coach (Pittsburgh Steelers) with most coaches Super Bowl wins (IX, X, XIII, XIV), death by natural causes.

Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem

June 15: Casey Kasem, 82: The legendary radio personality who never claimed to love rock ‘n’ roll but who built a long and lucrative career from it, and created and hosted one of ratio’s most popular syndicated pop music shows “America’s Top 40” died in Gig Harbor, Wash. Kasem had Lewy body dementia, a progressive disease of the body’s neurological and muscle cells. In his final months, he was at the center of a family legal battle over the terms of his death, pitting his wife, Jean, against his three adult children from a previous marriage.

June 16: Tony Gwynn, 54: Baseball Hall of Famer, San Diego Padres, salivary gland cancer.

June 19: Gerry Goffin, 75: he met Carole King at Queens College in 1958 and over the next decade they fell in love, married and had two children; divorced and moved their writing sessions into and out of 1650 Broadway, across the street from the Brill Building. He collaborated with Carole King to write some of the biggest hits of the 1960s: Will You Love Me Tomorrow? Up On the Roof, One Fine Day and The Loco-Motion. Together they composed a catalog of pop standards so diverse and irresistible that they were recorded by performers as unalike as the Drifters, Steve Lawrence, Aretha Franklin and the Beatles. They were inducted together into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2004 the Recording Academy presented them jointly with a Trustees Award for lifetime achievement. Ms. King composed the music; Mr. Goffin wrote the lyrics. Among them some of the most memorable words in the history of popular music. He died at his home in Los Angeles.

June 23: Nancy Garden, 76: American writer (Annie on My Mind) and LGBT activist, author, editor, former theater maven and teacher, died suddenly of a massive heart attack.

June 24: Caleb Bankston, 26: Reality show contestant (Survivor: Blood vs. Water) died when the train he was on derailed. Bankston worked at the Alabama Warrior Railway in Birmingham.

June 24: Eli Wallach, 98: one of the most prominent and prolixfic character actors in film, onstage and on television for more than 60 years, died at his home in Manhattan. A journeyman actor with his own style, Mr. Wallach appeared in scores of roles, often with his wite, Anne Jackson.

Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack

June 27: Bobby Womack, 70: American Hall of Fame R&B singer and songwriter, legendary soul singer whose career spanned seven decades, and one of my favorite all time artists since I first heard his 1974 “Lookin’ for a Love Again.” He was a soul-music genius and when he sang he could compel you to get on  your feet. As a child, despite being prohibited from touching his father’s guitar, he taught himself to play it. By far, my favorite is … “If you Think You’re Lonely Now.” Womack was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

June 28: Meshach Taylor, 67: star of TVs Designing Women, where he played the lovable assistant Anthony Bouvier. Mr. Taylor had been in hospice care at his family’s home in Altadena, Calif. He was with his wife, children and mother when he died. He had most recently been seen in Criminal Minds.

Louis Zamperini © Universal Pictures

Louis Zamperini © Universal Pictures

July 2: Louis Zamperini, 97: Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Prisoner of War Medal and he was an Olympic distance runner. The movie Unbroken, which is directed by Angelina Jolie, adapted by the Coen brothers and stars Jack O’Connell as Zamperini opens Christmas Day, 2014 tells his life story. Laura Hillenbrand wrote the best-selling book about his experiences. He had a most interesting life. His older brother Pete got him involved in the high school track team to keep him from getting into trouble. To read all about him, go here: wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Zamperini (and donate some money to Wikipedia while you’re at it).

July 10: Curt Gentry, 83: a San Francisco author who wrote or co-wrote 13 books including best-sellers “Helter Skelter” about the Charles Manson case and a critical biography of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover died of lung cancer in a San Francisco hospital. His books ranged from a guide to San Francisco to an account of the search for the fabled Lost Dutchman Mine to his Hoover biography were always thoroughly researched and beautifully written. “Helter Skelter” was co-written with Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. The Hoover Biography won a PEN award for the best nonfiction book of 1991.

July 11: Tommy Ramone, 65: ex-drummer and manager of The Ramones, he was co-founder of the seminal punk band The Ramones and the last surviving member of the original group died at his home in Queens, New York. He had been in hospice care following treatment for bile duct cancer.

July 15: Giacomo “Black Jack” Tocco, 87: reputed head of the Detroit Mafia for more than 30 years who kept a relatively low profile, more so than mob brother Vito and Anthony Giacalone, died of natural causes, according to mob expert Scott Burnstein of the Oakland Press. Tocco was long suspected of having ties to the 1975 disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.

July 16: Cashmere Jackson, 26: American boxer and U.S. Olympic hopeful, Jackson was in the passenger seat of a Chevrolet Impala in a Shell station parking lot at 4:50pm when the car was lightly rear-ended by a Pontiac Grand Am. When Jackson got out of the car, the 23-year-old woman driving the Grand Am headed right at her, police said. Jackson jumped on the hood, and the car continued driving through the lot and pulled out onto East 55th Street. The car veered across the yellow line, threw Jackson off the hood and collided with another Impala. Jackson rolled across 55th Street and was run over by a 62-year-old in a Honda Accord. Paramedics rushed her from the street to the MetroHealth Medical Center, where she eventually died. (cleveland.com)

July 16: Johnny Winter, 70: American Hall of Fame blues guitarist, singer, and triple Grammy Award-winning producer (1978-1980) died at age 70 in Zurich amid a European tour.

Elaine Stritch

Elaine Stritch

July 17: Elaine Stritch, 89: Tony Award winner (Elaine Stritch at Liberty) and Emmy Award winner (Law & Order {1993}), 30 Rock {2007}), died at her home in Birmingham, Michigan. Ms. Stritch’s career began in the 1940s and spanned almost 70 years. She made movies, appeared on stage and on television; well into her 80s.

July 17: Notable people killed in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: Liam Davison, 56 Australian author; Pim de Kuijer, 32, Dutch lobbyist and politician; Joep Lange, 59, Dutch physician, President of the International AIDS Society (2002-2004); Shuba Jay, 38, Malaysian television and theatre actress; Willem Witteveen, 62, Dutch politician and legal scholar, member of the Senate (1999-2007, since 2013).

James Garner

James Garner

July 19: James Garner, 86: actor in the 1950s TV Western “Maverick” and returned to TV to win an Emmy as Jim Rockford in the “Rockford Files” and was nominated for an Oscar in the movie “Murphy’s Romance” died at his home in Los Angeles from unknown causes at this time (7/23/14). He underwent quintuple bypass surgery in 1988 and suffered a stroke in 2008 but had recovered.

July 19: Skye McCole Bartusiak, 21: portrayed the young daughter of Mel Gibson in the 2000 film “The Patriot” died in her Houston home. The cause of her death is unknown but she reportedly died in her sleep. In addition to appearing in The Patriot, she also appeared in “The Cider House Rules” in 1999 and “Don’t Say a Word” opposite Michael Douglas. She had several TV roles, “24,” “Lost” and “House M.D.”

Babar and Haris Suleman

Babar and Haris Suleman

July 23: Haris Suleman, 17: American pilot, plane crash, an adventurer, from Indiana who was on an-around-the-world flight with his father, Babar Suleman, 58. They were out to break a record while raising money to help build schools in Babar Suleman’s native Pakistan. He and his son decided to make the adventure a fundraiser for the Citizens Foundation, which has built 1,000 schools in Pakistan.

July 24: Walt Martin, 69: American sound mixer, on over a dozen movies for Clint Eastwood including Flags of Our Fathers, Mystic River, Jersey Boys and earned his Oscar nod for best achievement in sound mixing for the 2006 war drama “Flags of Our Fathers.” Martin died of vasculitis after being hospitalized with chest pains. In addition to working with Eastwood, which began in 1999, he also worked with John Huston in 1987 on his final film. He recently did sound mixing on Mad Men and Sons of Anarchy.

July 24: Patrick Sawyer, 40: Liberian-born American lawyer, ebola virus disease. Mr. Sawyer was on his way to Minnesota to celebrate his daughter’s birthday but had one stop to make; a conference in Lagos, Nigeria. When he landed in Lagos he collapsed getting off the plane. He had been infected with Ebola in Liberia, where he worked as a top government official. Mr. Sawyer was isolated at a local Nigerian hospital on July 20 but died five days later on July 24.

Kristina Fetters

Kristina Fetters

July 27: Kristina Fetters, 34: American convicted murderer, youngest woman to receive a life sentence in the U.S., died from breast cancer. Fetters was sentenced to life in prison without parole at age 15 for beating her 73-year-old great-aunt with an iron skillet and stabbed her to death with kitchen knives in 1994 in Polk County, Iowa. The Iowa Parole Board granted her a compassionate release given the severity of her prognosis in December of 2013.

August 2: Eroni Kumana, 93: The Soloman Island fisherman who rescued John F. Kennedy after his PT-109 sank when a Japanese destroyer sank the patrol boat is dead at age 93, reported his family.

James Brady

James Brady

August 4: James Brady, 73: American government official, former White House Press Secretary under Reagan (1981-1989) and gun control advocate died at the age of 73. The US police will move ahead to investigate Mr. Brady’s death as a homicide believing that he died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the attack conducted by John Hinckley Jr. in 1981. Brady suffered brain damage and partial paralysis. Hinckley has been confined to a psychiatric hospital since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

August 6: Li Hu, 40: Chinese HIV activist, who just recently turned 40, died of complications from AIDS. Mr. Li’s death shook people with HIV and their advocates in China, who say they have lost a powerful supporter in a country where people and public institutions commonly ignore the issue or discriminate outright against people with the disease. In China, people who are known to have HIV are denied surgery in hospitals and are turned down for jobs. They may even be refused flights on airlines. Li Hu is survived by three siblings, his parents and his partner.

August 6: Ken Lucas, 73: Gulf Coast professional wrestler known for his famous finishing move “The Sleeper Hold,” died in Pensacola. During his decades-long career, Lucas had wrestled great wrestlers Rick Flair, Jerry Lawler and Harley Race.

August 11: Robin Williams, 63: Award-winning American comedian and actor was found dead by his personal assistant around 11:45am. He had hung himself from a door frame by using a belt. He was declared dead shortly after 12pm PST. Though there were superficial cuts to his left wrist and a pocket knife was found nearby with dried blood on it, his death was ruled asphyxiation by hanging. Mr. Williams had been treated for depression. There was no comment on whether a suicide note was found.

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

August 12: Lauren Bacall, 89: Award-winning American Actress died of a stroke in New York according to Robbert de Klerk, co-manager of the Humphrey Bogart Estate. She married Humphrey Bogart in 1945, had two children and went on to make more films together including The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948). Bogart died in 1957. She was also married to Jason Robards, which produced a child, actor Sam Robards.

August 14: Stephen Lee, 58: American character actor who worked more than three decades in the business died from a heart attack. His resume includes films such as Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera, The Negotiator with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey and television work dating back to Hart to Hart and recently with NCIS, Bones and Ghost Whisperer.

August 15: Jay Adams, 53: American legendary skateboarder, who was one of the edgy “Z-Boys” of the widely heralded 2001 documentary film Dogtown and Z-Boys and portrayed in the 2005 film Lords of Dogtown died while on an extended surf vacation in Mexico. The cause of death is believe to be a heart attack. The trip came on the wake of more than two decades of troubles for Adams who  had recently served time in prison on drug and assault convictions.

August 18: Don Pardo, 96: American radio and TV announcer. He was the magisterial announcer on Saturday Night Live for nearly 40 years. In 2010, the booming baritone became the first announcer to be inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in recognition of a lifetime of broadcasting that included work on game shows and included the original versions of The Price is Right and Jeopardy. As an NBC staff announced on Nov. 22, 1963, he was among the first to tell the nation about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Pardo died in his sleep at his home in Tucson, Ariz.

August 19: James Foley, 40: American photojournalist for the US-based news service GlobalPost who was kidnapped while reporting from Syria during Thanksgiving in 2012 was executed by an ISIS militant (death was reported on this date).

August 21: Robert Hansen, 75: American convicted serial killer who killed 17 to 21 women died in the Alaska Regional Hospital. His conviction was for more than a dozen women in Alaska in the 70s and 80s. Hansen operated a bakery in Anchorage and became known as the “Butcher Baker” after his conviction in February 1984 on numerous charges ranging from assault to kidnapping. A judge sentenced him to 461 years in  prison in addition to a life sentence. A film starring John Cusack as Hansen and Nicolas Cage as an Alaska State Trooper investigating the case entitled The Frozen Ground, released in 2013 was based on Hansen and his crimes.

August 24: Richard Attenborough, 90: English award-winning actor, producer and director (Gandhi, The Great Escape, Jurassic Park).

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